Saturday, December 03, 2005

Piccolo Eden

These are my butchers around the corner, the ones that saved my turkey roulade on Thanksgiving. They are the only Italian butchers left on via Padova for miles. Most of the family-run butcher shops have gone out of business trying to compete with the ever more popular supermarket. These guys, do such a good job, though and their prices are low. There's another type of butcher on every other corner, the Halal, or Islamic butcher. They cater to a very strong Muslim community here in our neighborhood but don't really compete with these guys. They don't have pancetta or prosciutto or any of those lovely salamis you see behind the guys at piccolo Eden. Another reason why these guys are still around and going strong is that they too cater to the large immigrant communities here on via Padova: our neighborhood is home to many Peruvians, Chinese and Philippinos as well as Ukrainians, Rumanians , one Swiss and one American. Today I got into the shop and saw 2 enormous pig heads on the counter. They were incredible! And I asked if they were going to cut them into certain pieces (the ear, for example is an ingredient in "casseula", a traditional Milanese winter stew of pork and cabbage-recipe to follow tomorrow) but they said, no, Philippinos buy them and roast them whole in the oven. No recipe for that follows tomorrow or any other day. Anyway, the many Halal butchers in our neighborhood can't (by law!) compete with that. What the Halal butchers ARE good for is convenience. They are open ALL THE TIME! This may not seem special to you convenience-coddled Americans who can grocery shop at 3am if you please, but in Milan almost everything is closed on Sundays and after 7:30 pm all other days (not to mention the siesta time for small businesses). If you run out of eggs, sugar, spices, etc at an off hour, they are there for you. They also have filo dough, tahini, molasses and a lot of other things, which can't be found in any other part of the city. SO I'm ecstatic that piccolo Eden, the Italian butcher shop and Al Mulk, the Halal butcher shop are around. They make my living and cooking in Italy a lot sweeter.


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